Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wild at heart?

"Life consists with wildness. The most alive is the wildest."


I remember a time in eighth grade when I was on a field trip to Cumberland Island, and one of the counselors at the nature center there took us on a walk through a salt marsh. It was a hot, stinking, South Georgia kind of day. At one point my classmates and I were all sitting along the edge of the boardwalk, and our guide was standing ankle-deep in the thick, pungent-smelling mud. She picked up a handful of mud and began to explain to us how clean and pure it was, and how indigenous people would use it on their faces to cleanse their pores, just like a modern Swiss facial.

Then, holding out her hand toward our big group of prissy fourteen-year-old girls, she asked us if anyone wanted a salt-marsh facial. Every one of us shrunk back, shrieking. I thought she was joking, but she persisted in her offer, just waiting for one of us to seize the moment. After a deliberating moment I, without a doubt the shyest and most reserved one of the class, volunteered.

The mud squished softly through my fingers as she put a dollop into my palm. The crude odor, far from a luxurious spa scent, wafted into my nostrils as I raised my hand to my face. I hesitantly painted the first streak across my cheekbone; the mud was so cold and wet on my skin that my arms and legs prickled, but it was soft and relaxing. After that first stroke, I wildly smeared the entire fistful over every patch of skin, even down my neck halfway to my collar. I remember the exhilaration I felt, as if layers of worry and artificiality were being unraveled around me. I knew that everyone else was laughing at me because my behavior was so unprecedented, but I laughed because I felt life pulsing up and down my body, and because I was breathing in the smells of the real world, right under my nose, and a part of me for the first time in ages.

1 comment:

KleoPatra said...

So cool.